Joel Heston of D1 shares wife’s experiences
in medical field during crisis

With 1,600 employees across the state, some member of the ITD family is bound to have loved ones also working in an essential field, whether as truck drivers, grocery clerks or healthcare workers.

For Joel Heston, a TTE in Residency A in D1, it’s his wife Jan, a radiology technologist at both Valley Hospital in Spokane Valley and Benewah Community Hospital in St. Maries.

As a “rad tech” for the last 14-plus years taking CAT scans, MRIs, mammography, DEXA scans and X-rays in two states, Jan’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 is greater than the average person.

Despite the two state’s different reactions to the spread of COVID-19, Jan has noticed both hospitals taking steps to protect employees.

When Jan goes to work now, her temperature is checked several times a day. Fellow healthcare workers are limiting her direct contact with patients, and managers are notifying employees when they have worked or are about to work with a patient who has tested positive or is being tested. Visitors to hospital patients are also limited.

Jan, always attentive to cleaning equipment between uses, has taken more care to keep her work environment sterile and no longer wears her work clothes home.

“My wife and I are proud that she works in a field of occupation that helps others during times of medical needs. Hospital and emergency workers are exposed to other communicable diseases, and this situation is obviously elevated, but with proper safety measures, doable,” Joel said.

Pictured: Joel and Jan Heston, with dog, Ruby.

Even before guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended social distancing and states issued stay-at-home orders, Jan and Joel were both limiting contact with their older parents and relying on other family members to assist them.

“We’re worried about being carriers, and as we watched this pandemic grow in our state, we were more cautious due to issues with testing and asymptomatic people testing positive,” Joel said. “We were concerned that the statistics weren’t accurate.”

Although Jan and Joel aren’t currently practicing social distancing or self-isolation in their shared home, it’s been a topic of discussion, and like everyone else, they are both facing challenges as they adapt to the stay-at-home order.

“We have moments where the seriousness of what’s going on affects us, but we’re working hard to stay positive,” Joel said.

Some sources of positivity have come from their friends and family members who have been donating masks to Jan and people like her. Joel’s coworker Mason Palmer and his wife have also been making masks to support their friends who are nurses and wanted to let others know that if they see a need in their community, they’d like to help.

“We are proud of the public supporting all the essential workers; it makes us proud as Americans to see everyone’s kindness and compassion,” Joel said. “Stay strong together, and we will get through this stronger than ever.”

Published 04-10-20